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3 Marketing Mistakes You Could Be Making On Twitter

Updated on December 23, 2012

Let’s be honest, when you’re running a business or a website, your top social media priority is driving more targeted consumers and/or readers to your website. The basic tenets of social media hold true for marketers just like they do for celebrities and other social media users, however, there are a few other rules and tricks that apply to marketers. Twitter is an incredibly powerful social media marketing tool. In fact, it just may be the game changer for your business, but it could also cost you if you’re making any of these (unfortunately) common mistakes. Read on!

1. Auto-DMing (Direct Messaging) your new followers.

This one is controversial as there are a couple of schools of thought on the use of auto-DM features provided by many Twitter services, being among the most popular. Now, there are plenty of valid reasons to auto-DM your followers, but here’s why an intro to new followers is not one of those reasons: It’s annoying. Plain and simple.

I follow businesses that I think may be useful social media contacts or simply those whose products and services I think may be relevant to share with my followers down the line. It’s a way for me to vet them and see if they post content that’s worth sharing. If so, I’ll try to build a relationship with said business.

The second I get an automated message running along the lines of “Thanks for following, now buy my stuff @ uselessthingsyoudon’!” I check out. There’s also a very good chance that I’ll unfollow and even block the user from contacting me again. My reaction is not a particularly visceral one, either. One mass auto-DM study found that their company’s unfollow rate actually increased by 245% solely from auto-DMing.

Lesson: Save the use of auto-DM services until after you’ve gained some trust and credibility with your new followers. Don’t let their first impression of you be a sales pitch. If you simply must auto-DM new followers, say hello, thanks for following and little else. Put out meaningful, useful content before asking them to open their wallets.

2. Suspended from Twitter for too many @mentions.

One of the quickest ways to get your account suspended from Twitter, especially for a business, is to send too many unsolicited @ replies or mentions. This is one of those aspects of Twitter that I’m not too fond of, because I believe it discourages people from engaging with one another which is, at its core, one of the primary reasons people use Twitter. After all, if it weren’t for the social aspect of social media we might as well all be writing into Word documents and leave it at that.

Be that as it may, Twitter’s policies are what they are and it’s up to you to work with them. No one knows the “magic number” of how many @ replies is too many, but social media experts I’ve spoken with suggest limiting yourself to 5@ replies or so before you take a break and return later.

It should be noted that the @reply/mention limitations only apply to conversations that you’ve initiated. This includes replying to tweets by other users and including their @handle in one of your own tweets. Replying to @mentions and @replies initiated by other users does not count against you, so you can feel free to reply to your followers and selectively start a few conversations.

Lesson: Manage your correspondence wisely. Generously reply to followers and other users who start conversations with you, but be more conservative when it comes to starting conversations with others. By all means, do relevant keyword searches and respond with useful and/or humorous information to get a dialog going with potential new followers, but don’t overdo it or you risk being sidelined by Twitter.

3. Failure to communicate: follow back, RT and @mention.

Celebrities look cool when their followers dwarf their following. Businesses do not. Customer service is an incredibly crucial factor for a customer in deciding whether or not to pursue a business relationship with you. Ignoring your followers sends a message, whether subconscious or otherwise, that your business is cold and non-responsive. If you’re aloof with your followers, you’ll probably be aloof with your clients. That’s the logic, even if they’re not aware of it.

Of course, once your following reaches a certain number it will become impossible to interact with each and every follower on an individual basis. This is the point when many businesses choose to hire social media consultants, such as myself. If you choose to go it alone, remember to prioritize. Continue to post open-ended tweets. Don’t just lecture, start a conversation and ask questions.

If you can’t reply to every post, host a chat once a week with a hashtag relevant to your business and select a time where you can get elbow deep in engaging with your followers. Select the tweets that really stand out and reply to them. RT useful information from your followers to your followers.

Lesson: Twitter is all about building relationships, imperfect though the process may be. A large following isn’t grown in a vacuum, but rather built through thoughtful interaction with your followers and potential clients. Keeping that following operates under the same principles. Don’t abandon your followers just because you “made it”!

There you have it, 3 of the most important tips I’ve learned to keep your followers engaged, happy and likely to convert into customers. There are plenty more where that came from, so if you’d like to see more in a similar series, let me know in the comments below!


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    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      Very useful!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for all the good information. I noticed too since a little while that I receive an auto DM from some people as soon as I accept to follow them. It seems to be a new trend. It bothers me because it's so impersonal so I just decided to ignore those kind of messages.

      I like the idea of hosting a chat once a week!

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • lanablackmoor profile image

      lanablackmoor 5 years ago from New England

      Thank you for reading! :) That sounds like a great "problem" to have, and one I know many Twitter users would love. Congrats on putting out interesting content that people are eager to follow!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. I am trying to get a handle as to why I have attracted so many followers.

    • lanablackmoor profile image

      lanablackmoor 5 years ago from New England

      Glad to hear I'm not the only one to think that! It really does send the message that they don't value customers, doesn't it? I'm sure for many businesses that's not the case, but it leaves such an impersonal taste in the reader's mouth that it's hard to get any other impression. For that reason, I think it's an especially detrimental practice for small businesses.

      Thanks for the insightful comment! :)

    • Sidewinder6661 profile image

      Leese Wright 5 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Some great and useful information here for marketers using Twitter. I, too, hate it when I get an auto DM promoting their products straight away. It's a real turn-off for me because it gives the impression that the company really doesn't value their customers as individuals.